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You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. John 15:16 (CEV)

The man led us down to the shed where we could hear the excited barking of puppies. I could see the look of anticipation and excitement in my son’s eyes. We’d been looking for a Cocker Spaniel for months and the price on this one seemed right.

As we entered the shed the pups called home, we were met by five excited, jumping little puppies. “Price on all of them is the same,” the kindly old gentleman said.

While I was looking at the five that met us, my son’s attention was drawn to a smaller, quiet puppy in the corner.

“What’s up with the little one in the corner?” My son asked. I could see by the look in his eyes that his heart had made its decision. My son had always had a soft spot in his heart for the down-and-outers of the world.

“Oh him? He’s the runt. Lucky to be alive actually. Came down here one morning and he had managed to climb the fence and fall in the stock tank on the other side. I figured he was a goner, but he seems fine now.”

While I would have chosen any of the other five, you have probably already guessed which one we went home with that day. The pup became my son’s closest friend until it died a few years later of cancer.

There are times in each of our lives when we may feel like the ‘runt’ in our circles. It seems like everyone else we know seems to get the whole Christian life, get the jobs they want, have the families we long for, and the list goes on.

The heart is a cruel liar. It constantly reminds us of our weaknesses. It continually points out the successes of others and compares them to our failures. It reminds us of our faults on a daily basis.

When your heart rears up and points at all the ‘uglies’ of your life, remember this: You were Chosen by the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe. Not only did he choose you as a friend, he made you His Child!

And if that isn’t enough, he did all this knowing you would fail, rebel, stray, stumble and fall. That’s because he didn’t choose you on the basis of anything you could offer. He chose you simply because he loves you.

Just as my son chose that puppy based on compassion, he chose you. Rejoice!

PRAYER: Father God…Daddy. Thank you for choosing me even though I have nothing of real significance to offer you. Help to live as a son of the Most High God. Amen.


How long must I be confused and miserable all day? How long will my enemies keep beating me down? Psalm 13:2 (CEV)

It’s a question we all ask. It comes in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons. But its meaning and source are the same.

How long will my loved one have to suffer from this cancer? How long will I have to endure a marriage that isn’t fulfilling for me or the kids? How long will this job hunt last? How long will I have to wait for that doctor’s report? How long will this addiction keep me enslaved? How long…?

We can try to find things to take our focus off the question. Some of our activities to try to take our focus off the question are noble. We volunteer. We go to church. We enter some ministry to help others. But when we go home at night, in the silence of our own minds the question lurks.

Sometimes we try other things that aren’t quite so noble. We have an affair. We turn to drugs or alcohol. We blame God. We worry. Wait, worry? Is it fair to list worry in the same paragraph as affairs, drugs or blaming God? Sadly, yes. For worry is just another way we say (unintentionally perhaps) that God can’t or won’t take care of you for whatever the reason.

The question hounds us relentlessly. Day and night it lurks in the shadows waiting for an opportune time to attack. A time when our minds, weary from trying to avoid the question lets its guard down. That’s when the enemy attacks.

The enemy, of course, is Satan and we must never lose sight of the fact that celebrates those times when he can keep us subdued. He and is wicked cohorts give each other high fives when we focus so much on the question that we lose sight of the only one who can give the answer.

He’s ruthless too. He not only uses his own mind-bending tactics to attack your soul and mind, he uses people. Sometimes he coerces good church-going people who kick you when you are down in the name of Jesus. Other times he uses evil people intent on causing you harm. Physical harm is bad enough, but those bruises will heal. Emotional bruises on the other hand are hidden from view and take years to heal, if ever.

How long? The answer is two-fold. First of all, our deliverance will come in a time that is best for us. Secondly, the answer will only come from a vibrant faith in God that says, regardless of how long I suffer, I put my trust in thee.

PRAYER: Father, in the midst of my despair, confusion and frustration I confess I’ve lost my focus. I’m focusing so much on the question that I’m crippled from finding you, or the answer for that matter. I thank you that you see my very soul and that you are with me even when I can’t find you. Amen.


Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

It wasn’t enough to watch from heaven. Your car died. Your kids have just told you that they don’t believe in God. You just lost your job. You can’t sing in church anymore. It’s not that the music is bad. In fact you like the music. You just can’t sing the words anymore. They’ve become hollow syllables, empty letters, and meaningless chatter.

You’ve tried to get the feeling back. You’ve prayed. You think about reading the Bible every day. It’s hard to know if it’s your own failure that has driven you to this point, or if it’s the pain that others have inflicted on you. You’ve been scolded one too many times. You’ve been reminded once too often that you’ve failed.

“Is it worth another try?” you ask yourself as you lay on your back staring at the ceiling and hoping that sleep will come soon to give your mind some rest. The same situations keep replaying themselves over and over in your head. What if you’d made a different choice? What if he didn’t hit you that last time? What if you’d told her she couldn’t go to the party? What if…?

The loneliness and despair surround you like the darkness of your night. You hope sleep comes but fear the dawn because you know the problems will still be there and you aren’t sure where you will get the courage and strength to go one more day.

Then a still small voice comes from the dark corners of your troubled mind. It’s a verse…no a phrase really. You don’t remember where it’s from. It was part of a Sunday School lesson years ago. “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.” That was it, right. He’ll never leave. He promised to be with me…always.

As sleep finally begins to creep in the words keep reminding you, consoling you, healing you. It wasn’t enough for him to watch from heaven. It wasn’t enough for him to ‘understand’ your plight. He knew that the best way he could help you was to come to live with you.

Jesus has felt the pain of every broken relationship. He’s cried with you each time you’ve been lied to. He’s worked through the feelings you have had of failure even though he himself never failed.

That’s what grace is about. It’s about the son of God coming to earth to feel your pain. To endure your failures. To feel your loneliness. He did all of this because he loves you and desperately yearns for a relationship with you. Jesus is passionate about you! It wasn’t enough to watch with sympathy from heaven. Jesus loves you so much he came to earth to experience the pain you feel in life.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I don’t understand how you, as the Son of God, can feel all the feelings I feel. I don’t understand how you can love someone like me who seems to find new ways to fail every day. I don’t understand it. But I like it! Thank you for understanding me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for loving me so much that you came to earth to show me how to live in the midst of this struggle we call life. Amen.

 


The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. Psalm 27:4 (NLT)

Where does God live? Is there any building that can contain him? Does he have a street address? A post office box? A quaint walkway leading up from some street in heaven to the front porch, complete with wicker rocking chair?

Of course not! There is no place that can contain him. The idea of God being some kindly old gentleman sitting on his porch watching the world go by as he sips on a cool glass of lemonade is preposterous! And the notion that we can escape God’s presence is clearly spoken against in Scripture. For no one can find a hiding place where God does not already dwell. 

So what does David mean that he wants to dwell in the house of the Lord all of his days and meditate in his Temple?

Here’s what I think it means. David, the man after God’s own heart, knew that his God was everywhere. He himself writes, ‘Where can I go to escape your presence’. But David never, ever wanted to forget that he was in the presence of almighty God.

During our times of loneliness he wants us to remember that God is our constant friend. During those times we of rebel and sin he wants us to remember that God is a merciful and forgiving Father. During times of illness he wants us to remember that our Heavenly Father holds the soothing oil of healing and is ready and willing to apply it to our lives. During those times when relationships fail and leave us emotionally wounded, he wants us to remember that true comfort comes from his touch.

With our Heavenly Father as our Lord we need not ever feel alone or forgotten or unforgiven. We need never feel that once we have fallen there is no getting up. He never loses sight of us even though sin and worry and guilt can keep us from seeing him.

Because of the grace offered through Jesus Christ our Lord we need never feel that God is not near. Nothing can keep us from enjoying his presence if we but come to him and ask.

PRAYER: Father God. I praise you today for the promise of your constant companionship and friendship along every step of this journey we call life. There are so many times I’ve felt alone or forgotten. So many times people and religion  have let me down, but no more. From this day forward I ask that I may always sense your presence with me. Through the power of your Holy Spirit I ask that you never let me forget that you are with me. In you I rest. In you I find all comfort. For I am never apart from your presence. Amen.

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